Alabama Medicaid long-term care reforms already exceeding goals

Alabamians who need long-term care services should be able to get them at home or in their communities whenever possible. And Alabama Medicaid’s new reform initiative, the Integrated Care Network (ICN), is making progress toward that goal.

The ICN has completed a successful first year of operation with strong help from consumer voices at the policy table. The network seeks to increase the share of Medicaid long-term care patients who receive services in home and community settings rather than in nursing facilities.

In Year 1, the ICN reached its five-year benchmark for this quality measure four years early, thanks to a new approach to care coordination, data analysis and consumer education. Medicaid implemented an accelerated enrollment process Oct. 1, as consumer advisers recommended. That process should further increase the share of home- and community-based participants in Year 2.

More than 15,000 of Alabama’s Medicaid long-term care patients reside in nursing facilities. Another 8,000 receive care in other settings. Because federal Medicaid rules originally targeted long-term care services to nursing home patients only, states must request “waivers” suspending those rules to deliver home- and community-based services. The ICN includes two of Alabama’s waiver programs, both managed through the state’s 13 Area Agencies on Aging.

Alabama Arise has a seat on the ICN’s governing board, along with our partners at AARP Alabama, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and Disability Rights and Resources. We’re also represented on the network’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC).

The CAC has a productive relationship with Alabama Select Network, the Blue Cross Blue Shield subsidiary that administers the ICN. The committee is promoting consumer choice in care settings and working to lift practical barriers to home- and community-based care.